When a Death Occurs – Phone the funeral home to set up an appointment time. Try and gather any and all of the pertinent information required to make funeral arrangements. Bring this information with you to the funeral arrangement. This may include the deceased’s birth certificate, Social Insurance Number, a photograph of your loved one, the will, a pre-arranged funeral plan.
The Executor & The Will – An executor’s job is demanding and time consuming. Judgment and knowledge are critical to the decision making process when appointing an executor. An inexperienced family member or friend is often named executor. Unfortunately, the appointment is viewed solely as an honour, without due consideration.
An executor / executrix is the person who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in your Will after you die. (There can be more than one executor.) The executor is also the person who has the legal authority to “control the disposition” (make funeral arrangements) for the deceased. You can name an alternate executor to take on the responsibility if your chosen executor cannot or will not accept the responsibility. It is essential to talk to this person prior to naming him or her as Executor / Executrix. Your alternate executor must also be consulted and both should have a copy of your Will.
The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch provides free legal information now available online and in audio including information on:
Making A Will and Estate Planning What Happens When You Die Without A Will? Your Duties As Executor
The Disappointed Beneficiary Power of Attorney and Representation Agreements
Lawyers And Trust Companies
If your affairs are complicated, lawyers and trust companies provide executor services. They are experienced in looking after administrative details, insurance claims, taxation concerns, setting up, and administrating trusts. This is also a way to avoid burdening family or friends with the responsibility of attending to estate business. Lawyers and trust companies usually base their fee on a percentage basis of the estate.
Have A Valid Will – The grief your family may suffer following your death will be greatly magnified if you do not have a valid Will. Families have been shattered over poorly drawn up Wills or the administration of the estate. A properly drawn, up to date Will, is one of the finest protections that a person can give their family.
THREE IMPORTANT REASONS TO MAKE A WILL
To explain what you want done with your assets or property, called your estate; that includes all your real and personal property.
To name a person or company, called an Executor, to manage and divide your estate.
To name a person, called a Guardian, to look after your children and their estates.
To avoid conflicts after you are gone, it is also advisable to name beneficiaries of family heirlooms and / or household effects. Keep a separate list and change it, as you need. This will prevent the hassle of amending the Will. The list should be signed and kept with the Will.
WHEN THERE IS NO WILL – The Estate Administration Act says how your estate will be divided if you die without a Will. A court will have to appoint someone to handle your estate. That person is called the Administrator. The Administrator is similar to the Executor who would have been named if you had made a Will. Usually the Administrator will be one of the people who will share in your estate. Sometimes people will disagree about who should be appointed and the Court has to decide whom to appoint. This can take a lot of time and money. If no one is willing to be the Administrator, then the Public Guardian and Trustee can do the job. The Court will also appoint a Guardian if you have children and their other parent is not alive. In most cases your survivors will have a much easier time if you make a Will. A Will is the best way to ensure your estate will be divided the way you want and that your children will be taken care of by the person you want.
WHO CAN APPLY TO ADMINISTER YOUR ESTATE? – If living with the deceased at the time of death, the spouse of the deceased or a common law spouse is the first person who can apply to administer your estate. If you have no spouse or if your spouse is not willing or able to administer your estate, then one or more of your relatives can apply, according to the priority set out by law. If there are no relatives willing or able to do this, then any other person who may be appropriate could apply to be Administrator. This many include a friend of yours, or a professional such as a lawyer or accountant. The Public Guardian and Trustee, as Official Administrator for the Province of B.C. might also apply to administer your estate in some circumstances; for example, if your estate is insolvent or if no one else is willing to act as Administrator.
WHERE TO KEEP YOUR WILL & IMPORTANT PAPERS – Keep your Will safe from fire, floods, theft and other damage. A good idea would be to place the Will in a safety deposit box in your bank. It is extremely important to note that a copy of the Will and any instructions with respect to funeral arrangements be kept in a location other than a safety deposit box that is known to the Executor or family.
Funeral arrangements are often made within 48 hours after a death has occurred. A death does not necessarily happen between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and access may not be available to these important documents. Remember that it is the legal representative named in the Will that has the authority to make funeral arrangements.
Do not leave the matter of funeral arrangements in the Will, as it is usually not read until after the funeral has taken place. It is therefore extremely important that the Executor has copies of all the necessary documents in order to expedite your wishes for cremation or burial. This especially could hold true if a death occurred over a long weekend or during the holiday season when banks, trust companies and law firms are generally closed.
Death Benefits & Financial Assistance
Canada Pension Plan – Survivor & Death Benefits
The Canada Pension Plan, Income Security Programs provides the contributor both survivor benefits and a lump sum death benefit.
The Canada Pension Plan death benefit is a one-time, lump-sum payment made to the deceased contributor’s estate. If there is no estate, the person responsible for the funeral expenses, the surviving spouse or common-law partner or the next of kin may be eligible, in that order.
The Canada Pension Plan survivor’s pension is paid to the person who, at the time of death, is the legal spouse or common-law partner of the deceased contributor. If you are a separated legal spouse and there is no cohabiting common-law partner, you may qualify for this benefit.
If your deceased same-sex common-law partner contributed to the Canada Pension Plan, you could be eligible for survivor’s benefits.
The Canada Pension Plan children’s benefit is paid to a dependent natural or adopted child of the deceased contributor, or a child in the care and control of the deceased contributor at the time of death. The child must be either under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 25 and in full-time attendance at a school or university
For More Information:
Crime Victim Assistance Program
Under the Crime Victim Assistance Act, immediate family members of an injured or deceased victim, and some witnesses may be eligible for financial assistance or benefits from the Crime Victim Assistance Program.
If an insured person is killed in a motor vehicle crash, Basic Autoplan will reimburse burial and funeral expenses of up to $2,500.
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation
The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation may pay funeral service costs for persons who die in B.C. if there are no immediate sources of funds or assets available to meet those costs.
National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces
The overall co-ordination of funeral and burial arrangements of currently serving members on paid service, in accordance with the wishes of the executor or personal representative named in the will, and consistent with current regulations and orders, is usually the responsibility of the unit.
The Public Guardian & Trustee of BC
The Public Guardian & Trustee administers the estates of deceased and missing persons where there is no one else able to do so.
The Canadian Government has traditionally assumed responsibility for the burial of members of the Canadian Armed Forces who died during battle and, later, those who died as a result of war-related injuries. In the years following the end of the Second World War and the Korean War, benefits were expanded to veterans who died without the financial means to provide for a dignified funeral and burial.
Funeral, Burial and Gravemarking Assistance. Because financial criteria may change up until the date of death, funeral and burial benefits cannot be pre-approved. Once the necessary criteria have been met, the Last Post Fund can determine what assistance may be offered. There are two types of funding arrangements which may be provided by the Last Post Fund: a standard service and an assisted service.
Work Related Death or Terminal Illness
This booklet presents information on financial and other assistance available from the WCB and lists resources that may be helpful following a work-related death.
Workers’ Compensation Board Death Benefits
Chapter 8 of the Rehabilitation and Claims Manual provides information for compensation on death of a worker including funeral and other death benefits. Where compensation is payable as the result of an injury resulting in death, an amount for funeral expenses is paid in addition to any other compensation payable.
Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths
Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime